by Martin Kich
So the Far Right has been singularly focused on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and although they now want to decouple the two things because of increasingly negative polling data, they pointedly tried to force the repeal of the ACA through the shutdown of the government and their refusal to approve an increase in the federal debt limit.
But, having shut down the government—having prevented the government from functioning—they are now earnestly, even desperately, seeking out photo ops that allow them to complain that the government is not functioning.
First, it was the fact that wheelchair-bound World War II veterans could not visit their memorial in Washington, D.C. One Far Right congressman demonstrated that he is an absolute clown by publicly upbraiding a parks employee for not allowing visitors into the memorial—even though, as a result of the Congressman’s own votes, the parks employee was, in effect, working without any guarantee of being paid and was singlehandedly tasked with trying to protect that piece of federal property and, adding irony to insult to injury, with protecting the federal government from any legal liability that might arise because of insufficient staffing at the site.[See: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Congressman-Confronts-Park-Ranger-Over-Closed-WWII-Memorial-226209781.html.]
Having shamelessly milked that hypocritically photo op, the Far Right is now complaining that the National Parks have been largely closed to Americans. [See the following news stories: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/327889-parks-take-center-stage-in-shutdown-fight- and http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/327843-states-told-they-can-open-national-parks.] Now that the snow has begun to fall in the high mountains, one imagines that soon the injustices being borne by skiers will be put front and center.
One wonders when they will get around to bemoaning some of the truly dire consequences of this government shutdown—such as the elimination of federal food subsidies and other safety net programs for impoverished mothers and and the postponed clinical trials of experimental drugs and medical treatments for which the severely ill have volunteered, often because it represents their last hope for a temporary remission or a cure [See: children [See: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-10-03/national/42654432_1_infant-formula-government-shutdown-supplemental-nutrition-program and http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/10/03/clinical-trials-shutdown].
Likewise, it seems not to have been enough that the Far Right extremists in the House have voted forty-one times to repeal the ACA. In addition, they have publicly campaigned to convince GOP-dominated states to decline to establish insurance exchanges and to convince young Americans to refuse to sign up for the insurance coverage newly available through such exchanges. Now they are launching a formal investigation into the problems with the ACA information sites, which have proven to be so in demand that some of them have repeatedly crashed under the heavy digital traffic. [See: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/327851-house-gop-to-probe-botched-exchanges-rollout]
Yes, that’s right, the people who have done everything in their power to make the ACA unpopular are now formally going to investigate why its administrators did not anticipate just how immediately popular it would be.
Martin Kich is the president of the Wright State University chapter of AAUP, which includes two bargaining units representing a total of about 600 faculty. He is also the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, a member of the executive committee of AAUP’s national Collective Bargaining Congress (AAUP-CBC) and chair of the Ohio Conference’s Communication Committee. Posted initially to the Academe Blog [http://academeblog.org/]